A White House official declared three states — Texas, Missouri, and Florida — to be responsible for 40% of all new COVID-19 cases on July 22. The number of unvaccinated people in these three states are primarily being affected through the newest emerging wave. Data updated after the time of that declaration shows additional surges in several other Deep South states.
“This week, just three states, Florida, Texas and Missouri, three states with lower vaccination rates, accounted for 40% of all cases nationwide,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said in a July 22 press conference, according to CNN. “For the second week in a row, one in five of all cases occurring in Florida alone. And within communities, these cases are primarily among unvaccinated people.”
According to data compiled by the New York Times, as of July 27 Florida’s daily case average is over 10,000. The state has experienced a 208% rise in cases over the past 14 days. Texas and Missouri are also in the top five states for case numbers, though Texas’ per capita numbers are just 19 per 100,000.
Going by per capita numbers, Florida and Missouri rank among the most-affected states, with 49 and 40 per 100,000 respectively. They’re both ensconced within a top six of Southern states that also include Louisiana (63 per 100,000), Arkansas (51 per 100,000), Mississippi (37 per 100,000), and Alabama (32 per 100,000).
Correspondingly, the most-affected states have lower vaccination rates than the national average. Only 34% of Alabama and Mississippi residents, 36% of Arkansas residents, 37% of Louisiana residents, 41% of Missouri residents, and 43% of Texans are fully vaccinated, compared to the national average of 49%.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has shown “support for initiatives such as the Save Our Seniors and State Mobile Vaccine programs to increase inoculation rates,” according a statement from a spokesperson to the Dallas Morning News. Despite this, Abbot appears “unwilling to return to mandates imposed earlier in the pandemic.”
“Governor Abbott has been clear that the time for government mandating of masks is over — now is the time for personal responsibility,” the spokesperson declared via a written statement. “Every Texan has the right to choose whether they will wear a mask, or have their children wear masks.”
Local officials within Texas are seeing the alarm raised in the White House statement. As reported by the Texas Tribune, officials in Austin, Houston, and Dallas (and their corresponding counties) encouraged cautionary behaviors, including advising all people to mask indoors and outdoors and for unvaccinated people to avoid crowds and non-essential travel.
In parts of Florida, local officials are also expressing concern in proportion with the rising case numbers. “These numbers are extraordinary,” Mayor Jerry Demings of Orange County told CNN. “We are seeing nearly 1,000 new cases in Orange County daily. Those are the numbers we saw at the highest peak last year. So a thousand a day is extraordinary. We are now in crisis mode.”